Advice for 36-year-old Veteran

Hey all! I’m a professional software engineer and Army veteran. My goal is to re-enter the Army as a physician, either active duty or national guard. I plan to apply to the Uniform Services University.

My past: Took 4 years of university but only completed 60 hours because of medical issues. So I had 4 years of debt and no degree, but I managed to get my foot in the door in software through sheer hard work and determination.

Now: I work 2 jobs and have a family to support. I’m currently taking classes full time and should be finishing my associates degree this summer. I have applied to a 4 year university, but will continue taking as many classes as I can at the community college because it is MUCH cheaper.

Specialty Interest: Oncology, PM&R, Anesthesiology, Palliative Care(maybe), Emergency Medicine (maybe)

Where I’m Struggling: I have yet to find a single physician to give me any shadowing. Every place I’ve called or emailed has either said they discontinued such programs or have just not responded. Also, I’m having the same problems trying to find volunteering opportunities. Not to mention finding the time for doing these things. If I do any shadowing I will have to use my very limited vacation days to do so.

My main goal here was to ask for advice on finding shadowing and volunteer opportunities. Also, I wanted to layout the general situation and see if anyone has any input to help me plan everything out. I need to be in USU by age 42 to re-enter without an age waiver.


I’m in the same boat as you. I was finally able to find time to shadow and do a little volunteer work at a clinic after returning to the states. I had some stuff lined up and all that got shut down.

I started e-shadowing consistently. There are quite a few places that are offering it both paid and for free (Dr. Grey was as well). It’s not ideal, it’s not in the right setting, and it’s only for a few hours, not a whole shift, but it’s better than nothing. Having a resident pimp you via ZOOM is pretty interesting.

As soon as I can I’ll go to in-person, but until then, I gotta do what I gotta do.

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